Writer: Mark Catley
Director: Nikolai Foster
Reviewer: Tracey Lowe
Interest in Arthur Conan Doyle’s world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes has soared in the past few years, thanks to Steven Moffat’s BBC drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch. So it makes sense that theatre companies are eager to resurrect such a complex and interesting character. ‘The Best Kept Secret’ is an original story by Mark Catley, who had worked on TV shows such as ‘Call the Midwife’ and ‘Eastenders’.
The play is set two years after the incident at the Reichenbach Falls, where Holmes finally defeated his nemesis Moriarty. Holmes is no longer interested in being a detective, and his skills are beginning to fade. It is only when his brother, Mycroft, is arrested for a crime he did not commit, and old adversary Inspector Lestrade forbids him from investigating the case, is his interest rekindled. Throw in the appearance of Holmes’ old flame Irene Adler, and the possible return of the apparently dead Moriarty, and the game is most definitely afoot.
The story is interesting, and has plenty of twists to keep the audience guessing. However, it does feel a little dragged out. By the time we reach the denouement, most of the audience have either guessed the ending or lost interest. The saving grace of the second act is that it contains a couple of very impressive illusions, courtesy of Derren Brown cohort Scott Penrose, the magic consultant on the play.
Visually, this is a stunning production, thanks to set and costume designer Michael Taylor. The huge set has a very industrial feel, but thanks to very clever lighting also creates some intimate spaces, such as Holmes’ office. The costumes, especially those worn by Irene Adler, are absolutely gorgeous. One minor complaint about the set was that a lot of the audience could see into the wings, giving them a view of the actors walking off-stage.
We are also treated to exciting performances from some very talented actors. Sherlock is played by the very handsome Jason Durr, who plays the detective as very human, but still enigmatic. Andrew Hall gives a very polished and confident turn as the put-upon Dr. Watson, and Adrian Lukis is absolutely wonderful as the socially inept Mycroft Holmes.
The Opera House isn’t really the ideal venue for a play where it is vital to listen to every word of dialogue, as the sound often gets lost in the vast space. However, one thing that was very clear was Grant Olding’s brilliant score, which really added to the tension in the more nail-biting scenes.
‘The Best Kept Secret’ has a lot of redeeming features. Unfortunately, the plot is not one of them. While the story is interesting, the pacing is far too slow. But this is a stylish, slick production with a fantastic cast, which will appeal to Holmes fans young and old.
Runs until 29th June